Soldiers boost Fayetteville's economy

May 1, 2008 5:50:13 PM PDT
Thousands of Fort Bragg troops have returned home from combat and they are ready to shop.

The Fayetteville economy has been suffering for the past 15 months. That's how long the majority of the 82nd airborne division has been deployed.

The soldiers are back with their rucksacks packed with combat pay and they are spending it with a vengeance.

Less than a month ago, Corporal Eddie Shaw was fighting in Afghanistan. He is back home in Fayetteville, where every dealership in town is fighting to sell him and others returning from combat a car.

"A lot of the guys I deployed with this time as oppose to last time ? they came home and they bought their cars with cash instead of going out and making these high payments and interest rates and stuff like that. They went ahead and bought cash," Fort Bragg Soldier, Eddie Shaw said.

According to the Army, on average soldiers receive about $1,000 extra tax free dollars a month while deployed.

It's money for things like taking hostile fire, hardship duty and being separated from families.

Soldiers who spent 15 months in combat get an additional $3,000.

Specialist John Andrews and his wife say they are buying cars, but getting something a little more sentimental.

"I plan on getting my ring, her wedding ring. When I went home the first time I didn't get it because I didn't want to lose it in Afghanistan," said John Andrews an 82nd Airborne Soldier.

"He saved some money and I try to leave it alone," John's wife, Diane Andrews said. "And now that he's we can spent it together and I don't feel bad about it."

Retailers say sales are skyrocketing. Big screen TVs are one of the best sellers. Some places are having a tough time keeping them and other electronics in stock.

And soldiers say they are feeling the love.

"The guy I was just on the test drive with he told me that he loves us military folks. He didn't think that most businesses in Fayetteville would exist if it wasn't for us spending the money here, so yeah it's good for Fayetteville," Shaw said.

Eyewitness News talked with soldiers who say they are happy to be home and they are showering themselves and families with gifts to make up for the time spent away.


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